Disclaimer: This is mostly tongue-in-cheek and written with much respect for those who can’t breastfeed. I truly appreciate your struggle.
Friends, breastfeeding newborns and infants is exhausting. About three weeks into breastfeeding our new bundle of joy, I remember saying, “I’m about ready to be done serving as a milk cow.” My husband so graciously reminded me that I had only just begun. He’s so kind, right?
In all seriousness, feeding (breast or formula) every newborn is a true commitment of love and dedication to your child. I’ve been lucky that nursing has come naturally to both of my children, and my body seems to function quite efficiently as a milk factory. Quite literally, though, breastfeeding takes blood, sweat and tears – and sometimes it just sucks.
Blood: For some reason, this time around, my nipples were literally cracked and bleeding. I had to pump and dump – a cardinal sin in my book – a few times because it was so bad. My sweet boy had a few rounds of formula because because the pain was too great to nurse (pumping was less painful). There were a myriad of other problems, like infections and clogged ducts that I won’t even go into.
Sweat: I don’t know about other breastfeeding moms, but for me, every time the milk lets down and I fill up with “liquid gold”, I get so hot. It’s like my breasts are serving as my own personal space heaters. Sometimes, it’s so intense that my face gets flushed and then I start getting nervous arm pit sweat because I think people can tell. So then I’m sweating all the more, because now I know they can tell. Sometimes I wonder if my nursing pad is catching leaking milk…or sweat.
Tears: Buckets of tears are always near the surface when I am nursing. The emotions and hormones are crazy, and I will cry at the drop of a hat. After the birth of my first baby, this Zillow commercial about a deployed solider and his wife looking for a house reduced me to sobs each and every time I saw it. I can deal with the emotions (usually), but unfortunately there are other tears involved with breastfeeding, too: pain, discomfort, and the overall difficulty many moms have trying to make something “natural” work.
Aside from my sacrificial blood, sweat and tears, this is the reason I think breastfeeding sucks the most:
I am a working momma, so you’ll find me pumping 3-4 times per day (depending on my willingness to get up in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep). While I am ALL FOR a good Netflix binge, there are about 5,000 things I would rather be doing than sitting half naked (in my classroom) hooked up to an awkward puffing and whirring machine while students are knocking on my door to turn in their late work.
Pumping also means measuring, washing and freezing. And with that comes the inevitable and dreaded spill. I don’t know about you, but when a bag of milk drops or a bottle tips, we have WAY more than a puddle of milk on the floor. I seem to become about as rational as my two-year old and begin SOBBING over spilled milk and all the “work” I put into making it. The standing rule is if my husband, a babysitter, or daycare professional have a milk accident, they don’t tell me. I won’t notice a missing bag, and we’ll all be happy – what I don’t know won’t hurt me!
In the end, it’s worth every ounce of energy it takes. I love my baby boy, and I love that I can provide for him this way. I love the time (and snuggles!) we have together, but sometimes I just want to yell at the top of my lungs, “BREASTFEEDING SUCKS!”
Can I get an “amen”?